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Is it possible to run a business with one’s former spouse post-divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 12, 2023 | Divorce

Married adults in Wisconsin who are considering divorce may be experiencing numerous personal circumstances that deter them from taking legal action to end their marriage. Oftentimes, there are economic or financial considerations that influence whether someone feels comfortable filing and when they choose to do so, for example.

Joint ownership of a small business with a spouse or sole ownership is a scenario wherein one spouse who works in a support position at their company could serve as a reason to delay a divorce filing, despite being in an unhappy or unhealthy marriage. Many people fear needing to divide their business with their spouse, and others may worry about losing their source of income or forcing their spouse out of their current job. Yet, it is possible for people to continue working at a family business together after divorce if they choose to move forward in this way.

With the right protections, effective cooperation is possible.

Although emotions tend to flare during divorce proceedings, a challenging relationship does not automatically mean that spouses who work together have to fully sever their professional connections. Often, it could be possible to continue working together and occasionally possible to continue jointly owning the business. To do so without putting the company’s financial stability or operations at risk, those preparing for divorce will typically need to redevelop their skills for working with their spouse and create contracts carefully outlining how the professional relationship will work. Those who will both play an executive or ownership role in the company may need to have terms for a future buyout in place.

If one spouse will effectively be the boss of the other, proper structure for that business relationship will be of the utmost importance. Many professionals preparing for divorce and hoping to continue working with their spouse afterward may benefit from consulting with a professional to learn new or improved conflict resolution and communication skills so that their marital discord doesn’t damage the business.

Working together isn’t always the best choice.

Although it is feasible to continue working together after the divorce, doing so isn’t necessarily the best choice. People need to think very carefully about not just their current circumstances but where they hope to be in five or 10 years. For many, severing that professional relationship and starting to aggressively rebuild their company or their career during and after divorce is a better approach than trying to maintain the status quo.

Rather than making a knee-jerk decision about something that will affect a company and both spouses, it is usually better to spend time carefully contemplating before choosing a path forward. Evaluating every option when both spouses work at or have an ownership interest in a company can help people better prepare for an upcoming Wisconsin divorce in ways that better ensure that the interests of all involved are properly safeguarded.